For many bikers, that first ride each spring kicks off an entire season of motorcycle road trips. Before you kick back the side stand and drop the clutch, prepare for your motorcycle trip to ensure it goes off without a hitch.
First, determine where you plan to ride. Consider how to get there, with whom you’re going, and how much time is needed. If riding in a group, plan a meeting to review your motorcycle group riding rules, so everyone understands hand signals and emergency plans. The choice of route will also have some essential bearings on how you prepare the bike (and yourself) for the road.
How to prepare for a motorcycle road trip
Check your tires
If your motorcycle has been in storage, inspect it from top to bottom to ensure it’s in optimal working order. The condition of your tires can dictate whether you’re carving through turns or gingerly limping to your next stop. Make sure the rubber compound is free of dry rot or cracking. Check your tire tread depth with the wear indicator, and make sure you have enough tread to cover the mileage you plan to drive.
Check your engine
Another essential motorcycle touring trick is to keep tabs on your engine and drivetrain before putting down the miles. Of course, you should always follow your complete motorcycle maintenance checklist, but here are a few tips on where to start:
- If you’re close to an oil change, it’s better to do it sooner rather than later; if your motorcycle is likely to burn oil, keep a quart of oil in your luggage.
- Chain-driven bikes is likely every 500 miles, so adjust your slack and clean/lube the chain.
- While you’re at it, make sure the sprockets aren’t worn or near the end of their life. A pair of ridges forming on the tip (called shark-toothing) indicates that you’ll need a replacement.
Check your battery
The motorcycle battery should be fully charged and able to handle a full load of any electronics (especially if you’re charging a phone or running a GPS). If the bike has hesitation starting, consider running a load test to make sure your battery isn’t on its way out.
Charge your electronics
Make sure your electronics and motorcycle tech gear are fully charged. Ensure that you are carrying all the necessary chargers for your trip-related electronics, such as your phone and Bluetooth communication system, if you have one in your helmet. You don’t want your music source to die in the middle of a long motorcycle road trip!
Pack protective gear
You should choose the things to carry on a motorcycle trip wisely. Pick protective motorcycle gear that is adaptable to changing conditions, especially if you’re embarking on a longer trip. Gear that is either waterproof or has a waterproof liner is key. Sudden showers can pop up anywhere, and wet riding will make you miserable. Also, choose gear with adjustable ventilation to ensure you don’t overheat when the temperature swings upwards.
Plan for navigation
Having some form of navigation aid whether electronic or paper is indispensable. A smartphone is a great way to plan routes and maintain the proper navigation track. However, if you don’t have a way to keep it charged or if you’ll be going outside the cell service range, it’s never a bad idea to carry a paper map.
When on two wheels, it’s wise to be extra prepared. Now that you know how to prepare for your motorcycle road trip, you should be ready for an exciting and hassle-free adventure. Before you hit the road, ensure you have the right insurance coverage to protect yourself and your bike. Learn more about motorcycle insurance and how motorcycle insurance works.